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Environmental News: 2016 in review and looking ahead to 2017

February 2, 2017

As 2017 is now in full swing and the festive break of 2016 seems like a distant memory we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the most significant occurrences in 2016 within the industry, and to look ahead to some approaching industry developments.

2017

As legionella awareness increases, officials update and improve their guidance, and health and safety professionals endeavour to exceed expectations, there are set to be many changes in the world of legionella control in 2017.

The HSE’s latest guidance on the control of infectious diseases in spa pools, HSG282, is on the way and is expected to be released in 2017. Spa pools have significantly increased in in numbers in hotels, leisure centres and private housing and this increase in popularity must be met with appropriate guidance to avoid a rise in Legionnaires’ disease cases. In 2012 an outbreak occurred at a DIY warehouse where a hot tub on display was not being correctly treated or maintained which lead to three fatalities. Originally planned as part four of HSG274, it will take the place of the 2006 PHE/HSE publication Management of spa pools: Controlling the risks of infection, and offer new technical guidance on Legionella control in hot tubs and other self-contained bodies of warm, agitated water.

While HSG282, HSG274 and L8 (the HSE’s approved code of practice on Legionella control) are described as guidance, the HSE notes that not following their instructions usually results in organisations failing to comply with health and safety laws and regulations. As such, it is important for all organisations to understand the guidance set out in these documents and to act on the relevant advice. The HSE has made it clear that it is serious about Legionella control and it is fair to assume that organisations who do not follow the regulator’s guidance in 2017 may find themselves faced with heavier fines than ever before.

2016

In early 2016, the HSE introduced new sentencing guidelines for organisations that commit health and safety offences. Prosecutors were quick to put these into practice when prosecuting organisations for failing to protect employees and members of the public from exposure to Legionella bacteria. The new guidelines emphasise that organisations should be fined according to the degree of risk on their premises, rather than the actual harm caused. In some cases it was never proven that Legionnaires’ disease had been contracted from the organisations premises but if a significant risk is identified then that is enough to warrant a sanction.

Some of the most publicised prosecutions can be found on the following links;

As you will see from each of these prosecution articles there is a clear trend of failings that inevitably led to these people contracting Legionnaires’ disease (which proved fatal in some cases):

  • Competence of the Responsible Person and Monitoring Personnel (Knowledge, Understanding, Training, Experience)
  • Failing to act on previously identified non-conformances and remedial works
  • Inadequate management processes and poor communication

If you would like support with protecting your organisation from Legionella and to make sure you are compliant with guidelines set out by the HSE then please do not hesitate to contact us on the details below. A member of our highly experienced & technical management team will be only too happy to discuss your requirements and to offer advice if needed.

Email: legionella@churchillservices.com

Phone: 0845 850 0221